Friday, January 30, 2004

Just had a lengthy talk with Raja. Talked about hazaar things including his being God, my being mere mortal, Rahman's being God, and Iruvar & Satya being absolutely GOD movies.

Basically Iruvar and Satya are my two favorite indian movies by a LOOONG margin. Raja wanted to know that if I *have* to choose one out of these two as my favorite movie (his definition of "*have* to choose" was "if Rahman is on gunpoint..." :D ), which one would it be. So, I *had* to choose one of them. And after some thought I decided that Satya has to be it. I dont know why exactly. I mean Iruvar is Iruvar, and Satya is Satya. Comparing them in any way should actually be made punishable by law.

Anyway, Satya... I remember the first time I saw it I thought it was a great movie. just "great". And I have reason to believe that I probably use that term a bit too loosely at times. specially after first viewing of a movie. There have been movies that have lost their appeal after viewing them 3-4 times. There are some that remain as fresh as the first time (Dil Chahta Hai comes to mind) but Satya is different. It started from "great" and every subsequent viewing doubled my amazement at almost perfection of this movie. I was shocked to learn that the story sort of evolved on the sets. If that is true then all credit goes to Ramu, Apurva Asrani and Bhanodaya for making the final cut as free flowing as it was. Its amazing how every scene blends seamlessly into the next. Probably the only problem with the movie are the songs. It doesnt mean that the songs aren't good. In fact there are some true gems ("Baadalon se Kaat Kaat ke", "Geela Geela Paani" for their depth, "Sapne mein milti hai", "Goli maar bheje mein" for their lightness and "Tu mere paas bhi hai" striking a nice balance between the two), but really the movie would've been better without them. "Kallu mama" and "Baadalon se" are probably the only two songs that don't hinder the narrative's flow too badly.

The best part about the movie (in fact I say this about almost *everything* about this movie) is the developments of each and every character. I can't think of any other hindi movie (except perhaps Sholay) where you can't think of any character that doesn't leave his/her own unique impression on your mind. Its astounding that a three-hour movie can make your acquaintance with 15-20 new characters so well that you actually feel that you know each one of those characters personally. Purely going by screen time characters like Bhau, Aamod Shukla, Khandelkar, Pyaari, Bhau's bodyguard, Chandu, the long-haired accomplice of Bhiku (what was his name??), Aamod's wife, character played by Sushant, Jagga, Mule can't be called important characters. Most of them had no more than 4-5 minutes of dialogue in the movie and yet, every one of them leaves as indelible an impression as the main characters of Satya, Bhiku, Kallu Mama and Vidya. Saurabh Shukla and Anurag Kashyap's screeplay should obviously get the credit as much as the performances.

Ah! the performances! Its difficult to find many movies where so many actors did such a consistently brilliant work throughout the movie. Come to think of it, if anything, Chakravarthy's performance was probably the weakest in the movie. And this is not to say that he was bad. Just that he could've been better in some sequences.

Bhiku Mhatre has earned so many raves over the years for Manoj Bajpai that there's probably nothing I can say here that hasn't been said infinite times before. He was truely awesome! Shockingly brilliant! Saurabh Shukla's Kallu Mama couldn't have been better portrayed. Urmila, in retrospect, was adequate in a role not demanding too much. But considering that this was completely unlike anything anyone expected from her, she attracted almost as much attention as Manoj Bajpai and enhanced people's expectations from her manyfold.

However, it wasn't these performances that are the reason why I think this movie is in a different league altogether from most other movies. After all most great movies have great lead performances. Actually, it was the performance by those 4-5 minute characters that actually lifts this movie from being great to the greatest ever. Paresh Raawal is outstanding as Aamod Shukla. His Aamod is a sincere, intelligent police commissioner and Paresh looks so natural that using the word "performance" doesnt seem quite right. He probably has most of the very few cliched lines in the movie and credit should go to him that it didnt stop him from doing an outstanding job. One only has to see this movie and then Hera Pheri to realize just how versatile this guy is.

Problem with Satya is that there are simply so many great things about this movie that I can't possibly mention all of them in what was essentially meant to be *just* another blog post. Just the fact that I dont have time to start about bravura performances by Shefali, Govind Namdeo etc even though its already almost 2 days since I started typing this is mindboggling. :)

Anyway, the bottomline is that Satya is one of my two favorite movies. (how's this for a tame ending to a post? :) )

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